View 851 Thursday, November 20, 2014
“Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency.”
President Barack Obama, January 31, 2009
If a foreign government had imposed this system of education on the United States, we would rightfully consider it an act of war.
Glenn T. Seaborg, National Commission on Education, 1983
The President has announced his executive order driven amnesty program, and I have seen many people in near panic. In another conference one chap said “I watched an elected president of the United States [do something unmentionable] with the United States Constitution and the rule of law tonight. It was a tragic event that reminded me of nothing so much as of Hitler in the 30’s.”
I understand the emotional response, but I would not go that far. I answered:
As a former Reagan advisor and one time Republican Party County Chairman I’m hardly a big fan of President Obama, but is it possible you have overstated your case? One powerful reason for strong opposition to amnesty programs comes from the effects of Reagan’s amnesty: it was supposed to be accompanied by much stricter control of the borders, but the result proved to be — as predicted by some — a larger flow of illegal immigrants to the United States because they were convinced that if they could get here and remain for a while without attracting the attention of the authorities — that is, by obeying the laws and staying under the radar — they would eventually win an amnesty as their older relatives had obtained.
This resulted in several million — the estimates vary — persons who are criminal by definition — they are illegally in the United States — but not otherwise, and some portion of them — again the numbers vary — have been faithfully employed in construction, farm work, road work, and as housekeepers and nannies. At least that’s the situation in California where there are said to be many more than a million such persons, not wanted for any crime, many valued for their services, but illegally here and subject to deportation.
As the President said, it is not realistic to project that at any time in the near future these people are going to be rounded up and deported. We have neither the police, nor the judicial/legal resources to do this, and it would be a strain in transportation resources to do this safely. It’s a massive job, precisely because it must be done under rule of law and not as a simple military exercise such as the internment of legal residents and citizens of Japanese ancestry in California at the beginning of World War II.
His move to "solve this" dilemma by executive action is questionable; his authority is to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, but the Constitution does not specify which laws when it is literally impossible to execute every one of them, This, at least, is his interpretation, and while I do not agree with all of it and I suspect the courts will not agree with it either, it is not an outrageous claim; no more so than some of Roosevelt’s changes in constitutional tradition which have now become part of accepted practice. Moreover, he was pretty careful to exempt those actively engaged in crime in his amnesty decree.
I have not wisdom enough to propose a general solution to the problem of about 10^7 people illegally present in the United States, with some proportion larger than half guilty of no crime but illegal presence in this country, It IS unrealistic to believe that they be rooted out and deported forthwith.
The constitutional crisis will be dealt with as such things have been for a hundred years. Mr. Obama has not been notable for his bargaining capabilities, but given the results of the last election there are plenty in the Minority Party to which he belongs who are good at such matters. Meanwhile it is not a constitutional crisis with much immediately dire consequence. It may encourage a new flood to enter the US in the hopes of future amnesty, which will make for a sufficient border problem as to require a lot more resources and attention to be devoted to it, or even the employment of the National Guard, but even that is not truly a calamity.
If I wanted to panic over the state of affairs in these United States, I would be most concerned with the rapid and steady decline in our education system that began with the creation of a federal Department of Education and the theory that local schools can be managed from State capitals and the District of Columbia; but then we recognized that problem in 1983, tried to panic, and in fact did little but watch the situation grow worse and worse ever since, and maybe now it is time either to panic or to start encouraging a brain drain in the general direction of the United States…. Or both.
I will admit that is a bit softer than what I might have said here, but on reflection I see nothing to change. This is not a time to panic. The President has exceeded his authority, but not in a catastrophic way. He has issues a decree that states that it is reversible. Some of his legal people have asserted that he has more powers he hasn’t used yet, but for the moment he has done nothing that he could not have done, tediously, by issuing 5 million pardons. [Note to House Judicial Committee: there ought to be the Congressional equivalent of an executive decree stating that multiple pardons cannot be issued without the consent of Congress: each pardon must be individually signed by the President.]
God reigns, and the government at Washington still stands. Now, we hope, some sense will settle into the Congress and result in some realistic approach to the problem of ten to the seventh illegal aliens unlawfully present within our borders. We would deal with an invading army; surely we can deal with this?
If our colleges and universities were reliable and trustworthy one partial solution suggests itself: anyone who has managed to obtain advanced degrees in needed professions gets a green card with the diploma. That won’t take care of ten million but it will relieve some of the pressure on companies who need critical workers. Of course that must be done with care. We do not need a million community organizers or sociologists or graduates in various studies programs. Sorting all that out won’t be easy, but then politicians are paid big money to sort out difficult problems. Let them earn some of it.
Another easy partial solution is obvious: serve two four year hitches in the United States Armed Forces, and on successful re-enlistment (the military wants you back) or the receipt of an honorable discharge you get citizenship. I wouldn’t think that one very difficult to get through either party in Congress.
But after all the obvious partial measures are accomplished, there will remain millions of persons here illegally but guilty of no crime other than their status. This is not a political problem, it’s a statement of reality. Something must be done.
President Reagan thought an amnesty coupled with more vigorous control of the border would be the solution to a much smaller problem. It wasn’t, and the problem grew. Mr. Obama should think about that; certainly the Congressional leaders will.
Women in Combat Units
I dearly hope this article is seminal.
Colonel, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, Retired.; Former Governor of Wasit Province, Iraq; Righter of Wrongs; Wrong most of the time; Distinguished Expert, TV remote control; Chef de Hot Dog Excellance; Avoider of Yard Work
Here’s Why Women in Combat Units is a Bad Idea
November 18, 2014 · in Charlie Mike
Three problems plague the debate over whether all combat units should finally be opened to women. (Actually, there are four problems: The fourth and most important being the likelihood that there will be no real debate, something that I hope this article will help to mitigate). Most career soldiers and officers I know believe the integration of women into Special Forces teams, and into SEAL, Ranger and Marine infantry platoons, is already a forgone conclusion. From their perspective, politicians in uniform (namely, top brass) don’t have the intestinal fortitude to brook the vocal minority in Congress – and the country, really – who think mainstreaming women into ground combat units is a good idea.
As for the other three problems, the first is that every sentient adult knows what happens when you mix healthy young men and women together in small groups for extended periods of time. Just look at any workplace. Couples form. At some point, how couples interact – sexually, emotionally, happily and/or unhappily – makes life uncomfortable for those around them. Factor in intense, intimate conditions and you can forget about adults being able to stay professional 24/7. Object lesson for anyone who disagrees: General Petraeus.
Problem number two: Those who favor lifting the combat exclusion ban engage in a clever sleight of hand whenever they equate women serving in combat with women serving in combat units. Given women’s performance over the past decade in Afghanistan and Iraq, who but a misogynist would doubt their capacity for courage, aggressiveness or grace under fire at this point? But battles are like exclamation points. They punctuate long stretches when there are no firefights. Spend time around soldiers when they are coming down from adrenaline highs, or are depressed or upset; they are prone to all sorts of temptations. Alternatively, under Groundhog Day-like conditions, troops invariably grow bored and frustrated. How quickly we forget Charles Graner and Lynndie England, and the dynamic between them that helped fuel the sadism at Abu Ghraib.
* * *
Or what about combat soldiers’ spouses, who already have more than enough worries? Why don’t their concerns count? This is a question that leads to a cascade of others for anyone who truly cares about equity. Whose equity should most matter? And who should get to determine this?
The irony is that combat units are ‘it’ when it comes to protecting all the other equities we Americans value. That is inconvenient truth number one. We have no other front-line/behind-the-lines first responders. Why would we want to do anything that jeopardizes their cohesiveness and integrity?
Inconvenient truth number two is that men and women have been each other’s most consistent distraction since the beginning of time. To pretend that we don’t know what will happen when men and women are thrown together for prolonged periods in emotionally intense situations defies common sense. Being overly academic and insufficiently adult about adult behavior isn’t just irresponsible but imperiling, and belies the deadly seriousness with which we should want combat units to perform.
Anna Simons is a Professor of Defense Analysis at the Naval Postgraduate School. She is the author of Networks of Dissolution: Somalia Undone and The Company They Keep: Life Inside the U.S. Army Special Forces, and is most recently the co-author of The Sovereignty Solution: A Commonsense Approach to Global Security. The views expressed are the author’s and do not reflect those of the Department of Defense, the U.S. Navy, or the Naval Postgraduate School.
Agreed. Well worth reading in its entirety. I recommend it to all my readers.
Choose the Kurds
As you say wars of this type are never easy.
I would instinctively choose the Kurds as the culturally closest to us of the combatants. Big problem would be Turkey, who could well feel threatened by a successful, well armed embryonic Kurdish state on its borders.
The Turks already have a well armed embryonic Caliphate on their border.
Airstrikes strengthening ISIS
Dear Dr. Pournelle,
I believe you will be interested in this article, though I doubt it will give you much pleasure.
It appears that our pinprick airstrikes against ISIS, far from weakening our enemy, is strengthening them. Why? Because we’ve been bombing other rebel groups as well. Those groups, figuring they will be lumped in with ISIS anyway, are hastening to merge them. So we have subtracted pennies from their strength through airstrikes but indirectly we have added pounds by fostering their merger and alliance with other rebels.
The upshot is that ISIS is stronger now than it was before this campaign was started.
I am trying to practice more optimism so .. there’s still time for Americans to do the right thing after all the other options are exhausted. So it appears that’s one less bad option between where we are now and actually doing something right!
And we still have no objective in that war. As the president turns his attention to immigration, having solved the Middle East problems. At times I do fear for the Republic.
"…as turning off the TV set with the remote control."
Russian plane completely shuts down US warship’s electronics.
Utter dependence on having the superior technology forges a most brittle weapon.
: Pentagon: Military Losing Technological Superiority to China
Time for some Strategy of Technology thinking. Of course, the military is currently being used as a social petri dish, vs. a means of national defense.
I finally found something that rates inclusion in Chaos Manor.
(Assuming you haven’t already seen it.)
Have a great day!
Home schoolers alert. And don’t forget the California Sixth Grade Reader
Before the election I wrote:
"If you are eligible and don’t register, or are registered but don’t show up to vote the politicians will see that as approval or indifference. Since neither condition poses any threat they will continue in their ways. If you really want to see change, registering and voting is the first step in that process."
Obama’s comment after the election that he "heard the 2/3 that didn’t vote" seems to bear that out. Despite the shellacking that the Democrats got it doesn’t really matter in his view.
That 2/3 of those eligible did not register or vote indicates only that they are (pick one or more) stupid, lazy, not paying attention, or are so disgusted with politics and the politicians and the conduct thereof that they refuse to participate. As for the first three, well, they probably shouldn’t be allowed to determine the course of the nation anyhow – sort of a political Darwin Award. For those disgusted I can only say if you want things to change you must participate. Remember the old observation: "the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
This also means we don’t sit back and let things go. Write – e-mail doesn’t even need a stamp. Hold the Republican’s feet to the fire to keep them on track. Don’t let them wander off like they did last time they were in control. Remind them of that.
Obama’s arrogant speech managed to seriously infuriate a lot of people on both sides.
Another good thing that happened is that every candidate that Hilary campaigned for lost and that likely means her chances of getting the nomination is somewhere between poor and nil.
It’s interesting to watch the Democrats thrash about trying to downplay what is perhaps the strongest single-party sweep in U.S. history. From Obama’s inane remark that the ones that didn’t vote are more important than the ones that did, to Pelosi’s idiotic babble (the fact that the House Democrats persist in voting for her as their leader raises serious question of their judgment and any capacity to govern – and Harry Reid isn’t any better) the level of self-delusion is staggering. These are the people who think they know how everyone should live and act? They would be well-advised to consider the old saying that it is better to be silent and thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.
Pournelle’s Iron Law and Apple
You have, once again, proven prescient. From your description of your experience at the Apple store, it seems your Iron Law has taken hold there: bureaucratic adherence to the store’s process is more important than service to a paying customer. "Come back later at my convenience and I’ll deign to take your money."
I can hope that this was a temporary and local situation. Most readers report good experiences at the Apple store.
Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.